Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Teaching Assistant

Hello!  There a a variety of stories that may be of interest this week.  Let's begin, shall we?

Constitutional History

Over at the Faculty Lounge, Al Brophy has a post discussing the extent and nature of the Founder's Christianity, and the implications that may have on our constitutional interpretation.

The NYT reports that some in California - including the governor - are considering revising the state constitution. Sandy Levinson at Balkinization has more, and suggests that if constitutions are being revised, the federal one could use some attention as well.

Equal Protection

From the Feminist Law Professors blog, a link to an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education questioning whether the tenure system is inherently biased against women.  The article also lists some of the efforts suggested to address the real and percieved inequities. 

Again turning to California, events in San Francisco have once again put Proposition 209 in the spotlight.  The measure prohibited California government entities from using racial or gender preferences.  Jerry Brown, Former California Governor and current Attorney General, opined that the measure was unconstitutional, as it "by effectively disadvantaging racial minorities and women in the political process, without an evident compelling governmental reason for doing so."

The Executive

The torture scandal is dominating the news about the executive branch as of late.  This week, two first hand accounts are definately worth reading.  First, a former Marine recounts his experiences as a "student" at the military's "torture school" - SERE.  His conclusion? "The school, which all pilots and special-forces soldiers attend, unintentionally serves to legitimize the use of torture by U.S. personnel in the field."   Second,  a former FBI agent recounts his experiences with torture tactics in the field.  He states, "There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques . . . that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics."

Finally, in a story related to the two above, on, Yale Con Law scholar Bruce Ackerman proposes the abolition of the Office of White House Counsel and the OLC.  Ackerman argues that these offices did not always exist, and that "Obama should return to the traditional system in which presidents depended on the Justice Department for their legal advice."  Moreover, Ackerman asserts that the current legal structure "made their abuses [that led to the torture memo scandals] not just possible but predictable." 

That's all for this weekend.  See you next time!


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